Wednesday 26 July 2017

'It was disappointing that it didn't materialise' - Luke Fitzgerald on how he almost reunited with Michael Cheika in France

13 January 2009; Leinster head coach Michael Cheika, second from left, shares a joke with players, from left, Leo Cullen, Luke Fitzgerald, and Malcolm O'Kelly, at a press conference ahead of their Heineken Cup Pool 2 match against London Wasps. Bective Rangers Clubhouse, Donnybrook, Dublin. Picture credit: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE
13 January 2009; Leinster head coach Michael Cheika, second from left, shares a joke with players, from left, Leo Cullen, Luke Fitzgerald, and Malcolm O'Kelly, at a press conference ahead of their Heineken Cup Pool 2 match against London Wasps. Bective Rangers Clubhouse, Donnybrook, Dublin. Picture credit: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Luke Fitzgerald spent his whole career playing in Leinster blue but if it wasn't for a knee injury, he could well have ended up wearing pink.

The former Ireland star won the Heineken Cup under Michael Cheika in 2009, and was offered the chance to join the Australian at Stade Francais after he departed Leinster in 2010.

However, Cheika was let go after a disagreement with the board, while Fitzgerald suffered a bad knee injury that autumn to put an end to any possible move.

"I did [have a chance to go to France], but I got injured, surprisingly for me!," Fitzgerald said on yesterday's episode of The Left Wing.

"The coach at the time had a bit of a barney with them and ended up moving back to Australia. It was Stade [Francais] if you hadn't figured it out. It was disappointing that it didn't materialise but off the back of it, it was great to have a couple of more years with Leinster."

Fitzgerald ultimately opted against France but one Ireland star who will play in the Top 14 from next season is Munster second row Donnacha Ryan. The Ireland lock was given an emotional send-off at Thomond Park after Munster's PRO12 semi-final win over the Ospreys and Fitzgerald thinks he will be missed in Limerick.

"It is sad to see him go," Fitzgerald said.

"He was obviously using Racing as a bargaining tool and he wasn't bluffing. He has ended up taking it [the offer] and we wish him all the best. Bit of a loss for Munster but you would like to think that one of the young guys would have filled the void there."

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